The most inspiring, life-changing windsurf story read. If this doesn't inspire you to get on the water, nothing will.
Words and photography by Markus Seidel.
Marjorie Keith was born in Michigan, USA in 1972 . She was employed as a broker in New York on the 105th floor of the World Trade Centre from 1993 to 1999. In 1999 Majorie took an internal transfer and began work in Milan; however, her life was still dramatically affected by the events of 9/11. Now, her life that was once filled with the facts and figures of the stock exchange, has been taken over by vulcans, flakas and words of wisdom from the Frans brothers.
Plane number one hit the World Trade Centre just a couple of floors from the office Marji had worked in for many years, none of her former colleagues survived. Deep in shock and feeling fortunate to be alive, the events of 9/11 lead Marji to completely change her life and along the way discover windsurfing.
Before moving to Bonaire, Marji was not a windsurfer. In fact, she was not even familiar with the sport. However, soon after purchasing a holiday home on the island on a whim, Marji fell in love with the beauty, people and way of life, and made it a permanent home for herself and her three children Mathew (10), Leonardo (8) and Astrid (5).
A lot changed for Marji as she settled into her new life among the 14,000 islanders. Financing their lives by renting out holiday apartments and home schooling her children, Marji was loving life like never before. Others in her family learnt to windsurf, but at first Marji could not find the nerve to try it too. But soon enough this changed, after separating from her husband and watching from the beach for too long Marji took to the water.
With a few beginner lessons under her belt Marji progressed at a steady pace, enjoying being on the water but not quite a windsurf addict just yet. It wasn’t until she was convinced to take part in a clinic week that she realised her full windsurfing potential and started to hit the water every day. Going through a tough divorce, windsurfing became the ‘drug’ that got her through the really bad times and became a great passion.
First Marji worked on the old school freestyle moves, mastering duck gybes, upwind 360s, heli tacks, etc, WAY before she planed out of any gybes; it didn’t occur to her that she needed to perfect her gybes before learning the trick variations.
Last year Marji decided to learn to do planing duck tacks, which she managed. She had not tried any aerial freestyle moves at this point, but while glancing through Tricktionary she noticed they rated the duck tack as a five on the difficulty scale, whilst a vulcan was a three. Spurred on by the thought that she therefore must be able to learn to vulcan, Marji starting throwing herself into these and other aerial manoeuvres.
Now Marji is consistently landing vulcans, as well as working on the spock in various forms, flakas, grubbys and much more. Having only been windsurfing for a few years and not being an 18 year old whizz kid, Marji takes a slightly different approach to windsurfing and learning freestyle to many, but it seems to be working:
The story continues with Marji's words on page two...
[part title="Marji's words"]
“A friend of mine here is an ex-pro windsurfer who sometimes talks about when he used to be ‘in training’ and I realised that I actually consider myself an athlete in training, even though I’m over 40!
The idea of being in training, it brings a lot of self-confidence that I didn’t feel before (and it is also an excuse to go windsurfing guilt-free!). I say it jokingly but there’s something to it. As I get older I think it is more and more important to stay in good shape. Having a sport that I’m passionate about and is so incredibly fun makes it easy. Going running or swimming laps for me is a chore I need to do to stay healthy, whereas windsurfing is something I actually look forward to doing but keeps me in shape at the same. And in many ways it is an anti-depressant; I know I can always go out on the water and get rid of all those negative feelings that creep up in life. It keeps me centred. My kids sometimes get mad at me if I go windsurfing – I tell them that I have to go if they want to have a happy mom. It is the truth.
It could so easily have been me up there. It could have been any of the many days I’d been there. Is it this that made me move to Bonaire? Probably deep down yes – there is something to that. It’s obviously more complicated than that – but it makes it very easy not to have regrets about leaving Wall Street. I am so thankful to be alive – to be on Bonaire – to get to work on my spocks nearly every day. I’m probably too aware of how fragile life is. We only have one life to live - maybe it's going to be short - I have proof of that now - so I am going to live in a great place and do what love to do."
Marji's story originally appeared in the 2012 Boards Flatwater Annual, she has probably improved a lot more since then, and you can find out more about the magazine here.